Thursday, January 31, 2013

Fight Against Child Trafficking

I suppose I've always known that human trafficking exists. But I've NEVER realized that it happens here in the States. I don't know why I've been so ignorant about that. I guess like many people, I didn't want to acknowledge that something so horrific could happen here in the country where I live.

But an estimated 5.5 million children are victims of trafficking, an illegal enterprise that
generates an estimated $32 billion in yearly profits. Human trafficking cases have been reported in every state in the United States. Rates are particularly high in California, Texas, Florida, and New York.

As a mother, the numbers horrify me. But when I learned that the U.S. Fund for UNICEF has launched The End Trafficking project to raise awareness about child trafficking and mobilize communities within the United States to take meaningful action to help protect children, I knew I wanted to share it with you.

In partnership with concerned individuals and groups, the initiative aims to bring us all closer to a day when ZERO children are exploited. Actress Angie Harmon, who I love, is UNICEF's newest ambassador, and she is lending her support for the fight against child trafficking during Human Trafficking Awareness Month in January.

To learn more about the End Trafficking initiative, visit UNICEF's website. If you are an educator, you will find resources there for middle and high school. And EVERYONE will benefit from the Toolkit on the site that shares 20 ways to take action.

Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Global Team 200 and our efforts to do social good by writing about issues that affect our communities and the organizations who are doing something to make this world a better place.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Education Can Be as Simple as WaterAid

"Millions of children around the world suffer because they don't have access to safe water and sanitation. Living without these vital services has a devastating impact on their health, education, and family relationships."

Everyday, I make my kids drink water. Why? Because I know that a healthy brain and body requires that basic ingredient that all life on this planet needs. I know that sugary drinks affect my kids' ability to focus when we are doing school, and can affect their energy level later in the day. In the morning, my kids drink milk or orange juice to help their brains find the energy it needs for them to focus and calculate. But at some point during the day, my kids have to drink a glass of water.

You know what? I'm lucky. I'm lucky because I can give them clean, safe water to drink. But did you know that across the globe, 800 million people do not have access to it? And because of that, 2,000 children die every day from easily prevented diarrheal diseases.  hundreds - maybe even thousands - of others are unable to attend school because they are too busy carrying water for their families and communities... especially young girls. These girls may have to carry large, heavy containers full of water for up to three miles or more, and the weight can damage their heads, necks, and spines. Other girls are forced to quit school whenever they reach puberty because their schools do not have private sanitation facilities.

Children may also be forced to skip school because they are suffering from water-related diseases. And in turn, their mother may not be able to work because she is too busy taking care of her sick child.

Which is why I want to take the time to endorse WaterAid. Founded in 1981, WaterAid transforms lives by helping the world’s poorest people gain access to safe water and sanitation. Together with local organizations, communities and individuals, WaterAid uses affordable and locally appropriate solutions to provide safe water, effective sanitation and hygiene education to people in developing countries. They have programs in 27 countries in Africa, Asia, the Pacific region and Central America.I love that WaterAid especially focuses on the needs of children. Their teams create centrally located water sources (wells) to minimize the distance that children will have to walk to carry water. These water sources also allow families to grow and cook food, which helps children to grow stronger and healthier, and better able to concentrate on their studies. WaterAid also checks that latrines (in schools) are designed so they are appropriate for use by children.

I want to encourage you to talk with your children about the importance of fresh, clean water. Last week, I shared on my FB page, this free, new printable diagram of the water cycle that was recently created by the U.S. Geological Survey for elementary and middle-school students. Print it out and share it with your child!

And make your children drink plenty of water on a daily basis. You can add flavor with a slice of lemon or strawberry. But I think it is better to train them to love the taste of water in its purest form.

And if you'd like to show your support to WaterAid, you can follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Global Team 200 and our efforts to do social good by writing about issues that affect our communities and the organizations who are doing something to make this world a better place.

Monday, January 28, 2013

New Book Reviews on the LBBC

Hi, Everyone.

Just wanted to remind you that our sister site, the
Latin Baby Book Club, has some new book reviews up this month, including Escucha Means Listen, Jungle Tales, and Tamalitos: A Cooking Poem. As part of our commitment to our movement Latinas for Latino Children's Literature, we are venturing into eBooks, as well as print books. I want to especially call your attention to the book, Jungle Tales, by Horacio Quiroga as this book is required reading for most elementary students throughout Latin America. It is now available in English for the first time. We have LOVED reading it, but make sure you read the review as there are a couple of things parents should consider before buying the book.

I'm happy to be focusing on the LBBC once again (last year most book reviews were published here on MommyMaestra instead). But I do want to put out a call to you for submissions. If you have a favorite book that falls under the category of Latino children's literature, we'd love for you to write up a short piece sharing your thoughts on the book so that other Latino parents might benefit and purchase it if they so choose. You can enter the title in the search bar on the LBBC to see if we've already posted a review. And if you'd like to submit one, just contact me.

Un abrazo...

Friday, January 25, 2013

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Classical Music App for Kids: Mozart Interactive

Today's app was developed by Melody Street, a company devoted to introducing children to the world of Classical Music and the orchestra.

Name: Mozart Interactive 
Subject(s): Intro to (Classical) Music
Brief Description: An interactive app introducing children to Mozart’s ‘Rondo Alla Turca’
Price: FREE
Language: English
Ages: 2 and up

What my kids like:
The fact that they get to orchestrate their own version of Mozart's Rondo alla Turca. This app lets kids decide which instruments will play certain portions of the piece. Their "movie" is then recorded and they can replay it or share it with their family and friends. They also really love the animation, and how each instrument is a character in the movie with its own personality. Possibly the best part is that they can do it over and over, making each movie/piece unique.

What I like:
The introduction to classical music in such a fun, interactive manner. But I think what captured my attention the most is the seamless way the developers have merged a live performer - the 10-year-old host, Ethan Bortnick, on the piano - with the animated characters.

I also love how Ethan is actually a very talented musician despite his young age. I think it is important for our children to see other kids like them being successful, because it helps to motivate and inspire them.

Additional notes:
Melody Street has its own YouTube channel where the instruments come to life and your child can find videos, games, and other fun stuff. It is very lively and engaging for young children.

Don't miss their other fantastic (and free!) apps for kids!

Disclosure: I was not contacted by Melody Street, but discovered them on my own while doing research for Music Week on MommyMaestra.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Non-Musical Parents Supporting Musical Kids

by Betty Galvan

Introducing music or a musical instrument to our children is one of the greatest gifts we can give as parents. Listening and concentration skills are strengthened in our kids when they learn to play. It also promotes discipline, structure, time management, and increases memory, math and reading skills. We all know every child can benefit, but what happens when we, the parents, don't know how to play?  

When our oldest son expressed an interest in playing piano at the age of five, we knew that although he was young, he could probably start. My husband and I were hesitant, not because we thought it would be a passing phase of interest in our child, but because he and I don't even know how to read music, let alone play an actual instrument. 

Like any activity we sign up for, we talked to Diego and reminded him of the rule we have always had in place when starting something new-we start and we don't quit. After the assigned dates are completed, we can then talk about his decision to continue or not. Jose and I knew that piano was going to be challenging...for us! There had to be a way for us to help Diego even though we were completely unaware of the process. We knew that the benefits outweighed our personal hesitation. So we all gave it a go! 

We had to make sure that like any activity or sport we had to follow these guidelines as a family to support Diego with piano playing:  

Make practicing part of the routine. We have added piano practice to our after-school schedule. Right after homework, dinner and bath, piano is scheduled right in there as well.  

Keep constant communication with teacher. If possible, be there for drop-off and pick-up. Seeing the teacher once a week, even for a few minutes, gives us the opportunity to touch base. Diego also carries a special notebook to class and back home so his teacher and I can send each other notes.  

Help practice when possible. We can do musical note flash cards together. I quiz Diego and it is like a game to him. I also sit with him or near him when he plays. His brothers are around to benefit from listening and watching, and Diego doesn't feel isolated. 

Reinforce music as much as possible. Find music to play that isolates your child's instrument of choice. And take the time to point out when you see someone playing live (the organ player at church, the guitar player on the subway, and the mariachi band at the wedding). 

Listen. Be available when your child should be practicing. We don't know all the songs but once in a while you'll recognize a tune even though you didn't know the name of the song! The more your child plays, the more you'll recognize mistakes. It's hilarious when Diego is surprised that I caught a mistake! 

Allow for free play. Every so often Diego just wants to "mess around" on his keyboard. Why not? Practicing doesn't have to be so structured. Who knows? You might have a little composer in your home.  

Be supportive. There will be tears (and I'm not talking about them being induced by "tiger mom" behavior)! There will be times when playing an instrument is frustrating. We take a deep breath, a break, a snack and we resume or not. We always make sure to make a note for his teacher if something is too difficult. I can't help-but she will!! 

Enjoy! First and foremost, kids should have fun with any activity they pick up. And the earlier you expose them to extracurricular activities, the easier it will be to find out what they love - or don’t love.  

Good luck!  


Betty Galvan, is helping her readers "find the positive and seek the benefits" over at her blog,

She is the mother of three beautiful little boys and a teacher.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Infographic on Music Makes You Smarter

Love this infographic I discovered on Pinterest. I hope you enjoy it, too!

music education

Monday, January 21, 2013

High School Salsa Band in Inaugural Parade

Seguro Que Si
image courtesy of

This week on MommyMaestra we're focusing on one of our favorite topics: music in education. I want to kick it off with a giant BRAVO to the Seguro Que Sí salsa band from Osceola County School for the Arts in Kissimmee, Florida. The band is made up of 10 members all between the ages of 15 and 17.

Tomorrow they will be lending their Latin music to the Inaugural Parade.

Felicidades to all these talented kids and their parents!!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Put a Little Creature Power in Your Kid's Day

Last Wednesday my son spent almost the entire day in a Wild Kratts fog. The PBS KIDS show is his absolute favorite. I don't let my kids watch much TV during the week, but I know they looks forward to watching World Girl and Wild Kratts for an hour each afternoon before their dad comes home. It's my chance to sit down and relax with a little "me" time. It's their time for some super fun science learning.

Anyway, as I was saying, after last Tuesday's Twitter party which featured both Kratt brothers as special guests, my son was floating on cloud nine (yes, I let him stay up way past his bedtime so he could ask questions). He was so excited to "talk" to Chris and Martin. Chris is his favorite (sorry, Martin) and for Christmas, we bought him a green Kratt shirt so he can dress up just like - yep! - Chris.

During the party, they shared a link to some Wild Kratt printables. So on Wednesday, my little printer churned out page after page of Wild Kratt goodness. My son cut some of them up and glued them to poster board to make his own scene. And then he spent a good bit of time drawing/designing Creature Power Suits on both Chris and Martin. He hung them all up on his bedroom wall.

My kids love animals. And they are simply enthralled with the idea of wearing Creature Power Suits that give them the powers of specific animals. My son will rattle off the adaptations of all the animals that have already been featured on the show. I know about platypus' electromagnetic "sixth" sense, and how they are an egg-laying mammal. I know that red kangaroos have incredible strength in their legs and can pack a mean kick. I know that birds of paradise have colorful displays and groovy dance moves.

After last week, they now know all about blowfish and dolphins. And your kids can know all about them, too, because Monday is the world premiere of the Wild Kratts "Lost at Sea." The one-hour science special has Chris and Martin exploring the coral reef along with some under-the-sea treats and other materials to help kids explore their creature powers. Check your local listing for air times. I guarantee your kids will be fascinated even if they aren't already animal lovers!

I think my bilingual readers will especially love the “Speaking Dolphinese” episode where Aviva (the show's Latina character who is the smartest one of the bunch, if you ask me, because she's the designer of all the Creature Power Suits!) speaks Spanish to show how fun it is to learn another language.
I hope you take some time to let your kids watch because it is one of the funnest ways to learn about animals that I've ever seen.

See you on the Creature Trail!

Disclaimer: I'm a PBS KIDS ambassador and received a screener for my kids to watch. All thoughts and opinions listed above are strictly my own. And the stories are true - my kids really are WK groupies.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Happy Kid Inventors' Day!

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
- Alan Kay

Did you know that today is Kid Inventors' Day? It's celebrated every year on January 17th in honor of one of our country's greatest inventors: Benjamin Franklin. He was born 307 years ago today.

We studied Franklin last year and the kids had a blast learning about all of his inventions: the lightning rod, the Franklin stove, bifocals, the flexible urinary catheter (yikes!), the odometer. And at the ripe young age of 12, he invented swim paddles (flippers). He also discovered many fascinating things about electricity, including how to store it in a crude battery of sorts.

People who invent things fascinate me. More often than not, they invent more than one thing. Some would say that few people are born true inventors. I would argue that everyone is born with that natural curiosity and creativity that are the parents of invention. But instead of encouraging our children and students, we tend to discourage it.

How often do your kids create elaborate mazes or machines out of ordinary household items? How often do you compliment your child when they do...or are you like me, sometimes fussing about the mess they've made?

Instead, why don't we make it a regular habit to encourage their spirit of invention? Today, I'm setting aside some time this afternoon for my kids to create something. Whatever they want. And to inspire them, we'll explore the Kid Inventors' Day website.

To make things fun, we'll be putting together an Inventor's Kit that includes (among other things) an Inventor's Journal, tape, glue, pipe cleaners, paper clips, brads, popsicle sticks, yarn, magnets, and anything else my children happen to think of. I'll post a picture when they're finished with it.

The Kid Inventors' Day website has some great books about inventors around the world. But before I end this post, I wanted to share with you a list of just some of our favorite Hispanic inventors:

Narcis Monturiol - Spanish inventor of the first submarine.

Ellen Ochoa - Invented optical analysis systems (and was the 1st Latina astronaut).

Victor Ochoa - The Mexican American Inventor of the Ochoaplane, and a windmill, magnetic brakes, a wrench, and a reversible motor.

Ileana Sánchez - Puerto Rican inventor of a book for the blind that brings together art and braille.

Guillermo González Camarena - The Mexican inventor of the first color tv.

Ronald "Ron" Rivera - Puerto Rican. Invented an inexpensive ceramic water filter used to treat gray water in impoverished communities.

Jose Hernandez-Rebollar - Invented the Acceleglove, a glove that can translate sign language into speech.

Pedro Flores - Inventor of the yo-yo. (He's actually Filipino.) 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tech Tuesday: Rounds Parker Penguin App

Today's app was developed by Nosy Crow, the same company who created Rounds: Franklin Frog. I decided on sharing this second review because my kids enjoyed Franklin Frog so much!

Name: Rounds: Parker Penguin 
Subject(s): Science, Reading
Brief Description: An interactive life-science, non-fiction app following the life cycle of a penguin.
Price: $4.99
Ages: 2 and up

What my kids like:

Even though my oldest is eight, this app is so engaging and interactive, she opens it again and again. My kids are huge animal lovers, and they really enjoy learning all sorts of facts about the animal world. This app satisfies their appetite for animal trivia, while making learning fun with its interactive layout. Kids tap on the characters to read or hear the dialogue, or they swipe the screen to make Parker dive, eat, and even jump out of the water. The app gives them the option of reading the story on their own, or using the narrator. And if they happen to get stuck on what to do next, the characters prompt them through their dialogue.

What I like:

The educational aspect, of course. I really like that they understand the concept of a life cycle after playing with both of these apps. And it is great for studying about the Antarctic and its habitat. Along the way, my kids learn about other animals, too.

But I also like that my six-year-old can practice reading with the app. Even if he chooses to use the narrator, the app uses word tracking and highlights the words as they are spoken. This app is great for preschoolers and elementary students.


This app is only available in English. I'm hoping they consider offering a Spanish version, as I know many of you would use it with your nenes!

This is a great supplement for your child's core curriculum, and really helps kids to understand how a life cycle works.

You can learn more by watching this introductory video:

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Do You Believe in Art Education?

The Jungle Book

I truly believe art is an essential part of every child's education. I know deep in my heart that allowing children to learn about art and art history, helps them become stronger in other areas like science and math and reading. And I think that providing them a creative outlet and letting them explore different techniques helps to not only ground them, but also encourages them to think outside the box and understand that there are different ways to achieve the same result, different ways to solve a problem. That perspective is all in the eye of the beholder and just because it is not the same as everyone else's doesn't mean that the perspective is wrong.

I have two kids who love art. And they are very different in their approach to art. One is very precise and careful with proportions. The other is less concerned about neatness and more about detail and richness. Both are talented (as all children are) and unique in their own individual way.

I use art to help them explore topics or themes we are studying. For example, when we were studying life cycles in science, I had them choose a life cycle and then draw it out for me. I love how they chose different animals and had fun with the process. But what I love even more is the fact that in order to draw it, they had to think about it and understand it. The whole process helped them to better understand the concept.

Art is important. And it bothers me how many schools are struggling to keep their art programs alive. So I was thrilled to learn about Art Room Aid

A program of Blick Art Materials, Art Room Aid is helping teachers across the country enlist the aid of parents, families, friends, and other art advocates to fund their art projects and keep creative learning going.

Want to learn more? Join me at a Twitter Party to find out how you can support art education, make sure art continues to play a role in your children’s lives, and spread the word about Art Room Aid in your community. We'll be discussing projects you can do with your own kids, and sharing sources of inspiration.

When: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2 p.m. ET

Where: They’ll be on Twitter – follow the #BlickARA hashtag to track the conversation. See this Twtvite for more info and to RSVP:

Hashtag: #BlickARA

Prizes: They'll be giving away five total prizes - two $25 Blick gift coupons, two $50 Blick gift coupons, and one $75 Blick gift coupon.

Hosts: @theMotherhood, @CooperMunroe, @EmilyMcKhann

Check out Art Room Aid here:

Blick Art Materials website:
Hope to see you then!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with the Motherhood. All opinions are strictly my own. I only work with campaigns with which I approve or agree and feel are beneficial to my readers.

Friday, January 11, 2013

In Memory of Amelia Earhart

On January 11th, 1935, Amelia Earhart left Honolulu flying a plane bound for California. Eighteen and a half hours and 2,500 miles later, her plane touched down in Oakland. She became the first person to fly this trip solo.

But this was just one of many firsts that Amelia Earhart made during her lifetime. A free spirit with the determination to break records, Amelia is probably best remembered for her disappearance during her attempt to fly around the world. But she was also the first woman to fly alone across the Atlantic and set three new records for speed.

In addition to being a pilot, Earhart was a speaker, a writer, a fashion designer, and she even helped start the airline industry here in the States.

So since we will be spending today studying Amelia and putting together a poster board about her, I thought I would share some of the resources we'll be using...

First off, Bright Ideas Press is offering free printable mapping and notebooking pages. And they've listed some great links, so be sure to check them out.

Scholastic has a great website about Earhart with lots of resources including lesson plans and this awesome interactive timeline.

Teacher Vision has a printable with interesting facts and fun activities on Earhart.

The FAA Kids' Corner has fun page will lots of activities divided up by age level.

I also really like this printable on what it takes to be a pilot. But this is best suited for older children.

America's Library has a nice section on Earhart that includes a timeline and various stories.

Good coloring pages can be found on Thinkquest & SuperColoring.

You can find a free booklet in Spanish available for download here in Vanessa Cavazos' TpT page. I have not downloaded it to check for accuracy. If you do, let us know what you think of it!

We also checked out several books from the library, but our favorite was Who Was Amelia Earhart written by Kate Boehm Jerome and illustrated by David Cain. It captivated my kids with the storyline (it tells the story of her whole life) and the illustrations. Guess what? It's available in Spanish, too!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Game of Kings

by Betty Galvan

My oldest son, who for the past three months is "almost six", is about to take part in his first chess tournament this weekend in New York City! He is "almost six" but was probably more prepared for his tournament a year or two ago than he is today.

Since our move from New York City last year, it has been more and more difficult to continue to have him learn the game he learned to love at the young age of three. Back then, his preschool had a chess coach go in to the class once a week and teach small groups. His teaching of chess was like nothing I had ever seen before. The coach had a story for each piece and told it with so much animation and passion, that it was impossible for the children to forget how each piece was supposed to move. Diego learned that one King moved one step at a time because he had a huge belly!

It has been difficult to find a coach or a program who works well with very young children. We spent a year trying different places but many don’t take children under seven, so we would sit and try to teach him the little that we know. We also downloaded Shredder Chess app for the iPad as recommended by his former coach. We eventually relaxed when we learned his school would open up the chess after-school program to the kindergarten classes this winter. He will only have one class before the tournament this weekend but we felt it was important for us to have him re-connect with the coach who helped build his love for chess.

The benefits of a child learning chess are just as important as the benefits of a child learning math and music. Chess helps with critical thinking skills, analyzing, planning ahead, pattern recognition, concentration, creativity and sportsmanship. It’s also very inexpensive (especially if your school offers a class) compared to other activities. Parent Magazine has written that, "A growing body of research is showing that chess improves kids’ thinking and problem-solving skills as well as their math and reading test scores. Accordingly, communities across the country are racing to create after-school chess programs and start local chess clubs, and some states — New Jersey, for one — have written chess into official school curricula." This is being seen in inner city schools as well as private schools.

We don’t know how well Diego will do on Saturday, but he is excited to go and that is what is important to José and me. Diego will see his old coach, perhaps see old friends and we will all be motivated to start up again. As parents, we have also realized that there will be so many things we cannot teach our children! We have vowed to find resources when our sons’ express an interest in an activity as beneficial as chess because, "The beauty of a move lies not in its appearance but in the thought behind it." -  Aaron Nimzowitsch

To learn more about the specific chess curriculum designed for children of ages 3-10, visit!


Betty Galvan, is helping her readers "find the positive and seek the benefits" over at her blog,

She is the mother of three beautiful little boys and a teacher.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Remembering Sandy Hook Victim, Ana Grace Márquez-Greene

photo by Connecticut Funeral Directors Association

It hasn't even been a month since the horrific event at Sandy Hook Elementary.

But it seems like a long time for me, because of all the information that has flowed across my computer screen. It still grieves me to think of that day and the unbearable loss that no parent should ever have to experience. It thrills me though to see that so many people are not letting this event simply go down in history without taking action to make a change in our country's policies.

But I'm not going to discuss anything political today. Instead, I'm going to join a group of bloggers who are remembering the lives of the victims. In 
conjunction with #26actsofkindness, a handful of us bloggers at #GlobalTeamof200 have decided to create a blog post about each of the 26 victims of Sandy Hook, to honor their lives and memory. Each of us has chosen a different child to honor and recognize, in support of their families.

I'm happy to share a tiny glimpse of the beautiful life of Ana Grace Márquez-Greene, a 6-year-old girl who inherited her jazz musician father's love of music and spent her short life singing and dancing everywhere she went. Ana's parents, Jimmy and Nelba, say that she was beautiful and loving, sometimes leaving little notes that said "I love you, Mom and Dad" beneath their pillows. Ana was very close to her older brother, Isaiah, who also attended the school, and they enjoyed making music together - Isaiah playing the piano while Ana sang.

This little girl who lived with music in her heart actually lived with a heart condition and had been scheduled to have surgery on the 4th.

One of the things that touched me the most about Ana is the fact that she came from a very diverse heritage:  African American, Puerto Rican Canadian, and just a bit of Irish. So many of you who follow MommyMaestra have multicultural families and I know that this might strike an additional chord for you.

If you would like to help Ana's family, or send your condolences, you can follow their Facebook page dedicated created in her memory, or you can donate to the Ana Grace Fund website, created by friends of her family.

And because of Ana's love of music, Western Connecticut State University - where her father, Jimmy, is a music professor - has set up the Ana Grace Marquez-Greene Music Scholarship Fund in her memory. Her mother, Nelba, is a clinical fellow at the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, and has also set up a family therapy fund in care of the Klingberg Family Centers for donations.

In a statement, the family encourages everyone to commit to doing selfless acts of kindness. I'll be thinking about this everyday, I hope, and looking for opportunities to do so.

If you would like to join us in the #26Acts, link up below and share what you've written. We'd love to read it. And please click on the links shared below to learn about the other children lost at Sandy Hook.

Un abrazo...

Thanks to Mamiverse for highlighting this post!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Tech Tuesday: Faces iMake App

Since there are so many educational apps flooding the market, I'll be sharing more of them on a regular basis. All of these make great Apps for Gifts, so consider these when you are celebrating birthdays, end of the school year, beginning of the school year, holidays, and so on. Enjoy!

Name: Faces iMake
Subject(s): art, creativity
Brief Description: Create your own faces using every-day items.
Price: $.99 to $1.99
Ages: 4 and up

What my kids like:

There is so much about this app that my kids like. They love the music that plays while they are creating their "masterpieces." They love the simple act of creating faces out of food, toys, tools, candy, musical name it. They love the total control they have over each item, including where to place it, what size to make it, and their ability to rotate it into the position they want.

My kids have spent hours (not all at once) creating faces that look like 'Buelita, Grandpa, Mami, and Dad. I think this is what amused me the most. They aren't just creating funny faces, they're actually creating faces of their family using school supplies, buttons, and different shapes.

In addition, this awesome app even gives them the option of using their own objects from pictures they take using the iPad.

What I like:

I love the fact that this app promotes creative play and develops their imagination and their ability to look at things in different ways. This app even inspires kids to build faces/people/animals/whatever at home using household items.

The app also comes with five lessons (YouTube videos) featuring artist and children's educator, Hanoch Piven, who helped to develop the app with the intent of making a creative workshop for kids.

Kids can look through the Gallery for inspiration, and add their own images, or share them via Facebook or email.

This app is not really language based, so all children - no matter what language they speak - can easily use and master this visual app... and enjoy it!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Back to School...

So it was back to school for us last Thursday when my parents left, headed back home to Texas. It was a light day of review followed by a field trip in the afternoon. It was our second time to see how they train police dogs at one of the top K9 training centers. The kids had a total blast watching the dogs as the trainers ran them through some quick training sessions. It was the perfect way to start back to school after the holiday break.

How often do your kids get to go on field trips? If you are a homeschooler, I hope it is on a regular basis. Nothing helps to motivate a kid like actually going somewhere fun to learn about something.

If your kids are in a traditional school setting (public or private school), does their class take regular field trips? If not, why don't you make it a point to go somewhere once a month. It doesn't have to be expensive - there are many free events open to the public. You just have to do a little research and find out where they are. Check out your local museums - art, science, history - as well as theaters and orchestras. They frequently host free events for the community.

I hope you've all enjoyed your holidays and are welcoming the comfort that a normal routine offers.

Back tomorrow with new resources for you...

Un abrazo...

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Los Reyes Magos on YouTube

One last post before tomorrow. I know your children are no doubt super excited and getting ready for Los Reyes' visit tonight, but I thought I would just let you know (in case you don't already!) that you can watch chapters of the movie, Los Reyes Magos, on YouTube. I'm not sure if they are all there (I haven't sat and watched all of them), but you can find them here. And to give you a sample, here is Chapter 1...

Have a WONDERFUL weekend!

Friday, January 4, 2013

El Buzón de los Reyes Magos

Really thrilled to have found this incredible website dedicated to Los Reyes. Based out of Spain, El Buzón de los Reyes Magos is in Spanish only. The site is a visual feast for both children and adults.

There is a section dedicated to the history of Los Reyes that parents and children can visit together. Your child can also watch two fantastic animated videos and explore the Kings' palace or learn about Mechor, Baltasar, and Gaspar individually.

There is also a section just for parents, where they can create letters from the Reyes year-round and send them to their children whenever they need a little reminder to behave themselves!

Be prepared, though, for some differences. Having researched Los Reyes for a good while now, I've discovered that their individual stories are not consistent. Sometimes Gaspar is the one from Asia, sometimes it is one of the others. In one version, Melchor may be recognized by his flaming red hair...but not in another! So if you have already taught one version about the Reyes to your children, you may prefer to preview the site first in case it doesn't match your family's own traditional story.

Ibi has also created a free app by the same name. It mainly focuses on allowing your child to create their own letter to Los Reyes. But you can also watch the videos on your iPad.

Enjoy this awesome find!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Free Printable Letters to Los Reyes Magos (The Magi)

Time for a freebie, I think!

Do your children write a letter to Los Reyes with a wish list of the gifts they'd love to receive? I know some children do, and then they tuck the letters into the box of hay for the camels, or into their shoes, which they leave carefully lined up by the foot of their beds for the Reyes to fill with regalitos.

Well, I've created two letter templates that you can download for FREE. There are two versions: One in Spanish and one in English (Do you know how hard it is to find any in English?!?), so you can choose the one you prefer to use. And to save you ink, they were designed in black and white - so your kids can color in the camel and the Wise Men for fun!


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Holidays Are Not Over

By Betty Galvan
Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday! How was it? By the way, is that what you are hearing lately? I have and I want to say, “Wait! It isn’t over!!”
When I was growing up, January 6th was the official ending to our holiday season. I knew it was Dia de los Reyes, but my parents dropped the traditional festivities when they arrived to Chicago from Mexico. Many years ago, I asked my mom why we didn’t celebrate Three Kings Day and she said that it was a holiday not observed in the U.S. Oh no! Yet, she had wonderful stories about leaving her shoes out twelve days after Christmas for The Three Kings to fill with delicious fruit and candy. So instead we waited for Santa, partied on New Year’s Eve and packed away all our Christmas decorations and nacimiento from under the tree on the seventh of January. As I wrapped up the porcelain Baby Jesus with great care, I used extra bubble wrap for each of The Three Kings, too. I wondered in my head about myrrh, but never asked.
Since the birth of my three sons, I have made sure we celebrate Dia de los Reyes and that no question goes unanswered. I understand my parents reluctance to celebrate something their neighbors did not. Today, I want to teach my kids an important piece of how our culture celebrates the Christmas traditions; from las posadas to pan de rosca, every detail will be explained.
When we start decorating our Christmas tree, I have the boys unwrap the delicate figures of our nativity scene (combining American and Mexican traditions!) and my husband tells them the story of The Three Kings following the North Star to find the Newborn King. In the future, I will purchase the books recommended here by Mommy Maestra and read them to the boys throughout the Christmas season. The Three Kings are important and the tradition of leaving out our shoes for a last surprise is a perfect way to honor them. It is also a perfect way to honor our Mexican traditions.
Will you observe Dia de los Reyes on Sunday? Any unique or original ideas you have added to the tradition? Let us know!
Betty Galvan, is helping her readers "find the positive and seek the benefits" over at her blog,
She is the mother of three beautiful little boys and a teacher.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Día de los Reyes for Kids

Happy New Year, dear friends! Thank you all for making last year such a fabulous one. I learned so much and even though it was a hard year for many, 2012 was a great learning experience for me with lots of opportunities. I hope that you had a good one, too!

I'm looking forward to sharing more great resources with you in 2013. And we are kicking off with Día de los Reyes Magos! Does your family celebrate this holiday? When I was a child, we didn't, but my children are getting to enjoy it now.

There are not a LOT of materials out there, but each year more and more activities and crafts become available. In case you missed them, here are some of the great resources I've already shared...

First, don't miss my comprehensive list of lesson plans, books, and activities. There are a lot of great links to fun projects and informational materials. And don't forget my Pinterest board on Día de los Reyes! It has a lot of fun crafts and activity sheets.

For the Spanish-speakers, take a look at my list of five books in Spanish on Los Reyes Magos.

Here is a list of MP3's on Los Reyes available for download from Amazon. You can also find them on albums, if you prefer to purchase and play. Also, last year I shared this mini-concert of online videos featuring a variety of people, both young and old, singing songs for Los Reyes. It's fun to watch them all from the comfort of your home computer!
Also, I still LOVE this app on Los Reyes Magos. It is so beautiful and definitely the best app that I've seen out there so far. We'll be sharing some others this week.

More to come this week!

Un abrazo fuerte...



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